Rentschler Farm Museum, Water Bill Penalties, Tax Abatement Rules on Saline City Council Agenda

 10/21/2013 - 01:06

State Rep. Gretchen Driskell returns to Saline City Council chambers Monday night to make a presentation to recognize the Rentschler Farm Museum's listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The recognition comes after years of work by Saline Area Historical Society members, particularly the work done by Cynthia Christensen. City council will also honor recently retired police records clerk Linda Longberry.

Tax breaks for industry and water bill penalties are also on the Saline City Council agenda for Monday night.

City council begins work at 6:30 p.m. with a work session to discuss a property maintenance ordinance and to discuss a new policy on penalties and late fees for people delinquent in paying water bills.

Treasurer Mickie Jo Bennett has drafted a policy that would create a 10 percent penalty, capped at $1,000, for late bill payers. If adopted, the policy would also take water bill penalties out of the city council arena. The new policy would instead authorize the city treasurer to waive the penalty one time, providing the bill is paid in full when the request is made.

The policy was called into question when American Soy, the city's largest water user, protested a $3,278 water bill penalty.

Council is also considering means to encourage some apartment complexes and other property owners to improve the appearance of their properties. The discussion continues at the work session.

Council's regular meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.

The city's Special Projects Committee is recommending the city use new guidelines when deciding whether or not to grant tax breaks on industrial investment. The new guidelines would separate real property (land/buildings) investments from personal property (machinery) investments. The guidelines have been streamlined and tweaked. Gone are “points” scored for having minimal environmental impact. Companies will also get less credit for creating jobs and more credit for the number of years operating in the community. Real property tax abatements are capped at 12 years and personal property abatements are capped at six years.

Several members of council have been requesting new tax abatement guidelines to reflect the changing economy and because it was difficult to measure of companies were living up to some of the promises made in their applications.

City council will also consider Tetra Tech's proposal to complete an MDEQ sewer use charge system and water rate study for $19,900. Should the city opt to do the study, it may be reimbursed by $12,500 by the MDEQ if the project is completed by January.

Council will also consider adopted new language in the agreement that governs the Saline Area Fire Department. The new language in the agreement precludes employees of police departments or fire departments party to the agreement from serving on the Saline Area Fire Board, which oversee the department. The language also gives local governments the ability to remove their representative from the board, and ends the term on the board when their elected office expires. The language also reduces the at-large member's term from six years to four years.

Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore founded The Saline Post on Aug. 15, 2012. Follow him on Twitter at @tranlongmoore. Follow The Saline Post @thesalinepost. Follow The Saline Post on Facebook by clicking here.